Arsene Wenger has called Arsenal’s assignment to overturn a 2-0 deficit at the home of all-conquering European champions Bayern Munich a “possible task.”
Arsenal have recent memories of getting the required result in the Allianz Arena. A 2-0 win in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie 12 months ago ultimately proved in vain, but Wenger believes that it could be crucial in injecting his side with the confidence to secure a similar result this time around.
“It is a possible task,” he said, according to Arsenal.com. “That is the most important thing for us. I believe my team has quality and ambition and, if we produce a top-level performance, then we can do it. History is important in your belief. We have done it before, so we know we can do it.”
Arsenal’s task is arguably even greater than last season, however. Bayern’s only loss at home since that reversal was what proved to be another inconsequential result when going down to Manchester City in the final round of group matches. Having won the treble last season, they have been even more dominant under Pep Guardiola this time around. The Bavarians are undefeated in the Bundesliga thus far, have won 16 consecutive matches and sit 20 points clear at the top.
Yet, Wenger believes that the score-line could play in Arsenal’s favor -- inspiring his team and breeding some complacency in their opponents.
“Yes, they will say themselves 'let's be on our toes a bit more than we were last year',” he said. “But still somewhere there is the psychological problem that they will think they have done the biggest part of the job. You cannot stop that going into your mind.
“On our side we go there with nothing to lose and with a huge desire to do well. Let's exploit our desire, our willingness, strengthen our huge combative side and put them in trouble.”
Arsenal can take confidence from their first-leg performance, too. They caused Bayern plenty of problems early on before Bayern got on top and then the match turned on the sending off for Wojciech Szczesny. The Arsenal stopper will be suspended for the return leg, with fellow Poland international Lukasz Fabianski set to come into the side. While Laurent Koscielny returns, Arsenal will also be without left-back Kieran Gibbs and striker Yaya Sanogo, who was a surprise starter in the first match at the Emirates Stadium. Jack Wilshere has also joined Arsenal’s injury list since the sides last met.
In contrast, Bayern have been strengthened by the return of Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri. Both players were on target in a thumping 6-1 win at fifth-placed Wolfsburg on Saturday. The previous week, Bayern beat fourth-placed Schalke 5-1. Despite all the things pointing in his side’s favor, Guardiola is aware of the dangers of playing too much to the score-line rather than treating it as a one-off match.
“The main thing for us is avoiding conceding a goal,” he said, according to Uefa.com. “We have to play with the mentality that we want to win the game. We will play in a way that makes sure that we want to win the game. They have very good midfielders and you really have to do well against them. We have to win this game, it doesn't matter what we did in the first leg. This is what we have to concentrate on.”
Where to watch: The second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie will kick off at 3.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Sports 1, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.